Letter: Eskdale campaign based on need for choice

Eskdale School consultation meetin at Whitby Pavilion
Eskdale School consultation meetin at Whitby Pavilion

I am writing in response to the article “Sixth form under threat warns council” in the Whitby Gazette.

Mr Dwyer states that the debate should not be about Eskdale being good and Caedmon being bad.

Could he please point out to me where at any point during the “Fight to Save Eskdale School” campaign anyone of the campaign team has stated that Caedmon School is “bad”?

This has never been a campaign based on rhetoric. This is a campaign based on the need for choice in education, in line with national education policy; a campaign based on the fact that when it comes to our children one size does not fit all.

He states that “the issue of choice is a valid one,” but then tries to draw an analogy with other towns in North Yorkshire that they have only one school.

The geographical location of Whitby make this an impossible comparison, our children would face a 40-mile round trip daily commute, not on a major trunk road but over the moors, on roads that are frequently cut off during the winter months, having to change buses on rural isolated roads.

The article references Eskdale School’s recent “Requires Improvement” rating by OFSTED.

Prior to the merger Caedmon also had a “Requires Improvement” judgement and even more pertinently there has been no OFSTED inspection of Caedmon College Whitby since the merger.

We do not have to look very far to see the catastrophic effects a merger can have. The Graham Raincliffe merger resulted in a school in special measures.

So can Eskdale deliver effective Key Stage 4 provision? My answer is yes, as a parent I am confident that the teachers at Eskdale can do this.

I am confident of that because I took the time to read the OFSTED report and I believe the inspectors when they say that measures have been put into place to overcome previous issues, but that not enough time had elapsed to see the full benefit of this.

As a parent, if I did not feel Eskdale was capable of delivering a good education I would not have agreed with my child’s choice of school.

Mr Dwyer also says that he is not hearing how we tackle the issues that we face and what are the alternatives to that.

I would put it to him that an alternative was proposed by Mr Robert Goodwill MP. He recommended that he consider the option of two secondary schools in Whitby-Eskdale 11-16 with NOR of 550 and Caedmon College Whitby 11-19 with a NOR of 900, with the sale of the Scoresby site being used to fund development of the Normanby site.

However, for some reason this is an option dismissed out of hand.

North Yorkshire County Council continually underestimates the people of this town. Does Mr Dwyer really think we will just stand by and watch as he strips our town of yet another valuable asset, short change our town and our children once more?

I think the people of Whitby have demonstrated many times since this decision was made that this is one step too far.

Neil Marsay

Ash Grove,

Whitby